February 28, 2011

A fly may not need to know the temperature in order to decide whether or not to bring a light jacket to dinner, but sensing temperature is important for its survival. A recent paper looks at how fruit flies process temperature.

The antenna of the fruit fly
Drosophila is a crucial organ. The antenna can sense many environmental cues, such as sound, wind, and pheromones, that are important for a fly’s survival, and a recent paper adds temperature to this list. Gallio and colleagues map out how temperature is represented in the fly brain and show that there are separate hot and cold neurons in the antenna. Images above show a fly antenna (left) and higher magnification views of the temperature-sensing neurons (right, found in the boxed region of the antenna). The blue response images (bottom) show that the neurons labeled 1 and 2 respond to hot temperatures (left), while the neurons labeled 3 and 4 respond to cold (right).

Gallio, M., Ofstad, T., Macpherson, L., Wang, J., & Zuker, C. (2011). The Coding of Temperature in the Drosophila Brain Cell, 144 (4), 614-624 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.01.028
Copyright ©2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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